Paraguay Highlights - Asuncion, Chaco, Iguazu and Misiones    *alt*

16 days
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Easy / 16 days from Asuncion, Paraguay

Our Paraguay Highlights trip covers the major places of interest in this little known landlocked country in the heart of South America.

Leaving the capital Asuncion you will head into the Chaco. This vast arid area is the least populated of the country and a fascinating introduction to Paraguay. A harsh history, wildlife and tales of survival chracterize this part of the country. From the Chaco you will head east to the city of Concepcion and get a feel for colonial Paraguay.

Misiones and Iguazu

Heading south, the landscape changes into fertile plains. Where Paraguay meets Brazil and Argentina the mighty Iguazu falls are found. Crossing the borders you will visit the Brazilian and Argentine falls.

Back in Paraguay you will travel to the Misiones district where huge Jesuit Reductions had been set up to evangelize the local Guarani population in the 17th and 18th centuries. The majestic ruins to this day still convey an aura of grandeur and impress with their scale.

Before heading back to Asuncion you will also have time to relax on a local working Estancia.


 Day 1: Arrive Asuncion. Transfer to hotel. Hotel.

Arrival to Asuncion airport. You will be met at the airport and have a private transfer with English speaking guide to your hotel. The rest of the day is free for you to explore. Asuncion is the capital of Paraguay and is a city of over half a million people.

 Day 2: Boat and city tour. Asuncion hotel. (B)

Today you have a full day exploring Asuncion. You will start with a boat trip on the River Paraguay around the bay of Asuncion. Stops will be made at some of the colourful fish stalls dotted around the bay which is a great opportunity to see what varieties of fish are being caught in the river on that day. After the boat tour you will board a vehicle and head south to Cerro Lambare - the highest hill in the area of Asuncion - and from where a great panorama of the city can be viewed. This is followed by a city tour where you will get a feel for the history of the Paraguayan capital from the times of the Spanish colonization. Visits will include the former train station, now a railway museum and the Pettrossi Market where you can try a Paraguayan speciality - Empanadas.

 Day 3: Transfer to Filadelfia. Hotel. (B)

Early morning transfer to Filadelfia, the Capital of the Chaco region. You will cross the Remanso bridge over the River Paraguay and enter the Chaco Boreal. This then stretches westwards to the border with Bolivia. The land is flat and is marked by deciduous scrub woodlands. Heading west you will find forests of spiny, thorny deciduous trees and brush, interrupted by patches of tall, coarse savanna grass. En route, stops to take in the flora and fauna as well as a visit to an indigenous village and 'Laguna Capitan' salt lake where flamingoes can be found in winter. In the evening, arrival to Filadelfia. Filadelfia is the capital of the Boqueron Distict and was founded by Mennonites fleeing the former Soviet Union in 1930.

 Day 4:Filadelfia, Neuland, Fortin Boqueron tours. Filadelfia hotel. (B)

After breakfast a guided Filadelfia city tour including the Jakob Unger museum which depicts the history of the Mennonite colonies of Filadelfia, Loma Plata, Neuland and Menno. Filadelfia with a population of around 10,000 inhabitants was founded in 1930 by Mennonites fleeing Russia. This visit will be followed by a tour to Neuland, another Mennonite colony which was founded in 1947 and has a population of around 3,500. The day will finish with a visit to Fortin Boqueron, an important site of the Chaco war. Return to Filadelfia.

 Day 5: Transfer to Estancia Iparoma. Campo Maria Eco reserve. Estancia. (B,L,D)

Pick up and transfer to Estancia Iparoma, which covers an area of 1200 hectares. The Estancia is 19 Km from Filadlfia. Visit to the 'Campo Maria ' eco reserve. This is a private reserve of 4,500 hectares with a large salt lake and there is the opportunity to spot some of the chaco wildlife and birds. The wildlife can include the chacoan peccary, tapir and amongst the bird species are the phalropus tricolor and white rumped sandpipers. Back at the ranch you can take a swim in a clear freshwater lake and also watch the Gauchos working with the cattle.

 Day 6: Transfer to Concepcion. Hotel. (B)

After breakfast, transfer to the town of Concepcion in North Central Paraguay. The journey time is approximately 6 hours. Arrival to Concepcion and transfer to your hotel. Concepcion lies on the shore of the River Paraguay and was an important transportation hub for the whole of the Chaco region. It is a sleepy town unused to tourism so it is a great place to get an authentic insight into life in Paraguay and notably to see how Guarani culture has been assimilated.

 Day 7: Concepcion and Belen tours. Concepcion hotel. (B)

In the morning guided city tour of Concepcion. This is followed by a 21 Km drive to the town of Belen. This is the oldest town of the region (over 250 years old) and nearby is the last Jesuit reduction to be built, Purutue Ka'I cue. Return to Concepcion. Optional boat excursion on the Rio Paraguay - not included.

 Day 8: Transfer to Villarrica. Hotel. (B)

Transfer heading South to the town of Villarrica on the shores of the River Parana. Journey time apporx 8 hours. Founded in 1879 Villarrica, is the capital of the state Guaria. Villarrica is also known for its "Carumbes", taxis in the form of horse-drawn carriages. Many Paraguayan poets and musicians were from this area, so their legacy can be seen in many small museums.

 Day 9: Colonia Independencia tour. Suizo waterfall. Villarrica hotel. (B)

Tour to Colonia Independencia, a town founded by German immigrants in 1919. The descendants of the first German immigrants still hold on to their German traditions. After the tour, a 5 Km walk to the 50 m high Salto Suizo waterfall. Finish the tour with a visit to a traditional wine cellar which includes wine and regional cheese tasting. Return to Villarrica.

 Day 10: Transfer to Foz de Iguazu in Brazil. Visit to Brazilian Iguazu Falls. (B)

Today we leave Villarrica and drive eastwards to Ciudad del Este on the border with Brazil. Drive accross the Friendship Bridge over the River Parana into Foz de Iguazu, Brazil, where your hotel is found. After you check, in visit to the Brazilian Iguazu falls. The Iguazu falls cover an edge of approximatley 1.7 miles with around 150 to 300 falls (depending on water levels) varying in height from 60 to 80 m. The Brazilian falls cover 20% of the area but give great panoramic views of the Argentine falls. From the park entrance you will travel by bus which will take you to the paths and walkways where you will be able to get up and close to the falls.

 Day 11: Visit Argentine Iguazu Falls. Foz de Iguazu hotel. (B)

Pick up at the hotel and cross the border into Argentina for a guided tour to the Argentine falls. From the visitor centre there are many walkways which will take you to the falls, the most impressive of which is the Garganta del Diablo (Devil's throat). Here three ring-shaped balconies permit a special view of the colossal 'throat', the culmination of the journey: a giant horseshoe-shaped waterfall 150 meters / 492 feet long, and 80 meters / 262 feet high. Here the water falls with such potency that it creates dense clouds of vapor as it pours into the river below. In the afternoon return to the hotel in Foz de Iguazu.

 Day 12: Transfer to Bellavista. Visit Jesuit Missions. Bellavista hotel. (B)

Depart Iguazu and drive back into Paraguay heading south to Bellavista. Check into the hotel. Visit to the ruins of the Jesuit Missions of Trinidad and Jesus Tavarangue, both UNESCO World Heritage Sites. These large reductions were built in 17th Century by the Guarani Indians, under the guidance of Spanish Jesuit missionaries. The Santissima Trinidad was one of the largest with over 4,000 inhabitants. Time permitting we will also witness a sound to light show. In the evening return to the hotel.

 Day 13: Visit Encarnacion. Transfer to Estancia Tacuaty. Estancia. (B,L,D)

In the morning visit to a mate tea factory, Paraguay's national beverage. Continue with a visit to the town of Ecarnacion, on the shore of the River Parana opposite the Argentine city of Posadas. From here continue to the Estancia Tacuaty. Afternoon at leisure on the Estancia.

 Day 14: Day free. Estancia Tacuaty. (B,L,D)

 Day to enjoy the estancia. This ranch offers many activities including horse riding, forest trails and a swimming pool.

 Day 15: Transfer to Asuncion. Visits en route including Yaguaron Jesuit Church. Asuncion hotel. (B)

In the morning depart the ranch heading for Asuncion. En route visit historic colonial towns such as San Ignacio Guazu, Santa Rosa and Villa Florida. Before reaching Asuncion, visit a baroque wooden church in Yaguaron, built by the Guarani Indians under the supervision of the Franciscan missionaries in the 18th Century, which is considered the oldest church in Paraguay. Arrival in Asuncion and transfer to your hotel.

 Day 16: Transfer to Asuncion airport. (B)

Transfer to the airport for your departure flight. End of services.